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How to Feed Spring Bulbs

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Spring bulbs include daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and other bulbs that are normally planted in fall for spring bloom. Spring bulbs but forth bright flowers early in the season before fading to just foliage by late spring. Most spring bulbs go dormant in fall and winter and bloom again each spring. Feeding the bulbs helps supply them with the nutrients they need to return year after year.

Divide a small handful of bulb or 5-10-10 fertilizer among ten bulb planting holes during initial planting. Bulb fertilizer is high in phosphate and potassium, which encourages good root development and plant growth.

Cover the fertilizer with a 1/2 inch layer of soil then place the bulbs in the holes to plant as usual. Avoid putting the bulbs in direct contact with the fertilizer, as this may damage them.

Water well after planting so the bulb is able to absorb the fertilizer as it puts out roots. This also prevents the fertilizer from burning the bulb.

Feed a second time after all blooms have faded in spring. Lightly sprinkle bulb fertilizer or 5-10-10 around each plant.

Till the fertilizer into the soil with a hand cultivator, taking care not to damage the roots.

Water the bed lightly to begin the absorption process. Water enough to moisten the top 4 inches of soil, but not so much the fertilizer is washed away.


Things You Will Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Spade
  • Cultivator


  • Bulbs require minimal nitrogen and most soils have enough potassium. Replace fertilizer feeds with bone meal instead for its high phosphate content, if desired.
  • Potted bulbs benefit from a liquid houseplant fertilizer every two weeks after blooming until dormancy.


  • Do not get fertilizer directly on the leaves, stems or roots of the plants, as this will damage or kill them.
  • Never fertilize while the flower are in bloom or just before they bloom. This stops blooming and instead only causes excessive foliage growth.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.